JIMMY NAIL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW - PART TWO

JN - I’d like to begin by making clear that the following are my thoughts and recollections of events, some of which took place almost 40 years ago. Others will doubtless have their own recollections, their own versions. They may differ from mine. All are valid. Everyone has their own truth. I’ve written at length about my AWP experiences in my 2004 memoir and for that reason my answers here will be comparatively brief. Copyright: Jimmy Nail 2021. This article is not to be reproduced without consent.

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Auf Wiedersehen, Pet 1983 - 2021
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Question 8: Series 2, Episode 3, ‘A Law for the Rich’ written by Ian La Frenais & Dick Clement sees another stand-out hilarious scene unfold when the lads enjoy a pint in the Barley Mow run by legendary landlord Arthur ‘Tiger’ Pringle. A disgruntled Oz is quick to terminate the jukebox with one sharp kick with his hobnailed boot when ‘Aga-bloody-doo’ by Black Lace plays out to the bewilderment of all. Script writing simply doesn’t get any better with this scene ranking as one of your finest amongst Auf Wiedersehen Pet fans. Can you give us a little insight into the script and how the scene developed?   JN: It happened in a bar in Newcastle. I'd journeyed to the bar - the Haymarket Hotel - one Sunday evening specifically to hear a track - a John Mayall/Peter Green recording of ’So Many Roads' - they had on their jukebox. I duly selected the track and waited… and something else came on (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Agadoo). I was so miffed I put my foot through the jukebox. John, the manager, had no option but to bar me. Fair enough.     Listen to Jimmys original jukebox choice! John Mayall/Peter Green - ’So Many Roads'.
Watch ‘Aga-Bloody-Doo scene now on
Question 9: A number of out-takes exist perfectly capturing the bond between cast members on-set and between takes including many hilarious bloopers. One such scene that didn’t make the final cut sees Dennis, Neville and Oz ordering ‘steak mit chips and peas’ in a German restaurant. Mayhem ensues when Oz throws a glass of water over Dennis before he reciprocates throwing his glass of water over you. Can you shed any light on this scene and the moments leading up to the chaos and why it didn’t make the final cut?   JN: I’ve looked at the clip and I have no recollection of it. However, it would appear from the audio (with either Kevin or I saying to Tim, ‘oh man oz, man!’) and Tim’s wild behaviour that Tim’s playing Oz here. It may have been a bit of fun for an outtake.  
Check out out this outtake plus many more now on
Question 10: Series 2 was fraught with problems on set; internal politics, power struggles, strikes, press intrusions and of course, the sad, untimely passing of Gary Holton. Against the odds, the series was as successful as the first ending with many unanswered questions leading viewers in hope of a follow up series. Was there any discussion or ideas amongst your fellow cast members and writers about a third series in the 80’s following the huge success of series 2 and if so, can you provide a little insight of what might have been? JN: Not as I recall. I believe by that point we were all ready to move on. Gary’s death was such a terrible shock and it cast a cloud over everything, knocked the stuffing out of us all. We were a close-knit bunch. Question 11: Following a 16-year gap between series two and three, the show was revived in 2002 with new adventures to Arizona (series 3), Cuba (series 4) and Thailand (The Special). You had some influence in the shows storylines whilst scouting for filming locations around the world with show creator Franc Roddam. Whilst your character exhibited traits of the ‘young Oz’, his persona changed echoing the wisdom of time and maturity. In hindsight, is there anything you would change about your performance as the ‘new Oz’? JN: Franc and I mapped out the story arc then Dick and Ian took it on from there. They felt it was important for the characters to have evolved, some positively, others less so. By 2001 times had changed as to what you could and couldn’t do and say on UK terrestrial television. On a personal level there was way more unbridled fun in playing the original unfiltered Oz but as an actor your job is to play the part as written to the best of your ability.
Question 12: It is widely acknowledged Ian La Frenais, Dick Clement and Stan Hey wrote some of the finest comedy drama television of all time capturing the simple interplay and inherent humour of everyday conversation to perfection. Did you stick rigidly to the scripts and what, if any influence did you have on your characters dialogue and identity throughout the show? JN: It was pretty much all there on the page. We were able to put our own spin on it, make it our own, as any actor will. As the writers got to know the actors (and the actors their characters) so it was reflected in the writing. The characters were being crafted specifically for us. Ian and I used to hang out together and some of my turns of phrase would find their way into the scripts. I had no problem with that. It was all just a part of the creative machine working. Most tv is made up of talking heads. One of the great things about the way Roger shot that first series was he worked a lot in wide establishing shots, allowing us to roam around utilising our entire bodies, our physicality, to help tell our stories. Roger was the alchemist, the unsung hero, our fifth Beatle. If it wasn’t for his vision, forget it.  
Question 13: It’s fair to say your character was blessed with some of the finest, most humorous script writing and comedy one-liners ever penned, most of which have become cemented in ‘AWP folklore’! What is your favourite scene and exchange of dialogue and why?  JN: There was a scene set at the bar early on in which Oz shows Dennis a dodgy divers’ watch he’s recently bought. Dennis says it looks a bit shoddy, and Oz answers, ‘It works underwater, Dennis!’ That was the scene we did for my screen test. ’Sex is in its infancy in Gateshead’ makes me laugh. ‘Everybody gets what nobody wants?’ ‘That’s democracy, Dennis.’ is another stand-out line.    
Watch Jimmy’s favourite scenes back-to-back here!
Question 14: Writer Dick Clement was very fond of series 2, Episode 8, ‘Marjorie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’ where he placed flesh on the bones of Oz providing an opportunity to display his vulnerable side in his home town. Clement went on to say your performance in this episode “was fantastic”. Looking back over 38 episodes across 4 series and a two-part special, what was your favourite episode and why? JN: I’d have to plump for the very first episode because for me personally nothing would ever be the same after it went out that Friday evening. It was a revelation watching it on primetime ITV, and there was I, in the middle of it. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. Something that’s often overlooked is that Series 1 was just that, a series, consisting of 13 self-contained stories, a different one playing out each week. After that they became serialistic whereby the storyline left off at the end of one episode and picked up at the beginning of the next. That’s a big ask over 13 hours for the writers, the actors and the viewers. My preference would have been to continue with self-contained episodes, a clean slate each week - why change something that had worked so well?  
Question 15: You were stunned to discover the enormity of your role when thirteen sixty-odd page Auf Wiedersehen, Pet scripts landed on your doorstep back in 1982 that would ultimately change your life forever making Jimmy Nail a household name. In excess of 35 hours of television-gold later, what was the biggest challenge you faced when playing Oz?  JN: Initially the challenge was to hold my own in the company of such accomplished, gifted actors and to justify the faith Roger had shown in casting me. It was not easy but to a man (and woman) they were all great and helped me get on top of of it. After the success of Series 1 the challenge was more about managing others’ expectations. So much was expected of Question 16: Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler wrote ‘Why Aye Man’, the unforgettable closing sound track to series 3 complete with backing vocals from you and Tim Healy. Whilst the track from his third solo studio album ‘The Ragpicker’s Dream’ embodies Thatcher’s political and social backdrop of the 80’s echoing series 1, it was the chorus - reminiscent of Native American Indian chants - that was lifted to play out the closing credits of the Arizona series. On a personal level, you admire Mark Knopfler’s work. Can you give us a little background as to how Mark became involved with the series 3 soundtrack? JN: I asked Mark and Sting if they’d consider doing something. Sting recorded a really cool vocal hook for the opening titles and Mark offered up ‘Why Aye, Man’ for the closing credits. You don’t normally have that kind of fire-power book-ending a UK television series. I was over the moon until the BBC execs chose not to go with the Sting segment. Go figure.
Series 2 and we all felt it.
Listen out for backing vocals by Jimmy and Tim Healy.
The Official Auf Wiedersehen Pet fansite would sincerely like to thank Jimmy for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us and share his memories. Copyright: Jimmy Nail 2021. This article is not to be reproduced without consent. Sign up to our newsletter here and be the first to read the third and final part of our exclusive interview when we saved the best until last. Find out some of Jimmy’s fondest memories both on and off screen; we discuss fans fascination with AWP filming locations and discover his favourite and why; we ask for one piece of little known AWP trivia fans couldn’t possibly know and; during these incredibly difficult and challenging times, we ask what advice he would give those wishing to follow in his footsteps in performing arts. Plus, we ask the ultimate question on the mind of every die-hard fan: would he ever consider reviving his character as ‘Leonard Jeffrey ‘Oz’ Osborne’ one last time if the script and time were perfect! To be the first to find out what he had to say and sign up to our newsletter now!     Missed part 1 of our Jimmy Nail Q&A? Read it here.    
Watch the official video: Mark Knopfler ‘Why Aye Man in full now on

JIMMY NAIL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW - PART TWO

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Auf Wiedersehen, Pet 1983 -2021
JN - I’d like to begin by making clear that the following are my thoughts and recollections of events, some of which took place almost 40 years ago. Others will doubtless have their own recollections, their own versions. They may differ from mine. All are valid. Everyone has their own truth. I’ve written at length about my AWP experiences in my 2004 memoir and for that reason my answers here will be comparatively brief. Copyright: Jimmy Nail 2021. This article is not to be reproduced without consent.
Question 8: Series 2, Episode 3, ‘A Law for the Rich’ written by Ian La Frenais & Dick Clement sees another stand-out hilarious scene unfold when the lads enjoy a pint in the Barley Mow run by legendary landlord Arthur ‘Tiger’ Pringle. A disgruntled Oz is quick to terminate the jukebox with one sharp kick with his hobnailed boot when ‘Aga-bloody-doo’ by Black Lace plays out to the bewilderment of all. Script writing simply doesn’t get any better with this scene ranking as one of your finest amongst Auf Wiedersehen Pet fans. Can you give us a little insight into the script and how the scene developed?   JN: It happened in a bar in Newcastle. I'd journeyed to the bar - the Haymarket Hotel - one Sunday evening specifically to hear a track - a John Mayall/Peter Green recording of ’So Many Roads' - they had on their jukebox. I duly selected the track and waited… and something else came on (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Agadoo). I was so miffed I put my foot through the jukebox. John, the manager, had no option but to bar me. Fair enough.
Question 9: A number of out-takes exist perfectly capturing the bond between cast members on-set and between takes including many hilarious bloopers. One such scene that didn’t make the final cut sees Dennis, Neville and Oz ordering ‘steak mit chips and peas’ in a German restaurant. Mayhem ensues when Oz throws a glass of water over Dennis before he reciprocates throwing his glass of water over you. Can you shed any light on this scene and the moments leading up to the chaos and why it didn’t make the final cut?   JN: I’ve looked at the clip and I have no recollection of it. However, it would appear from the audio (with either Kevin or I saying to Tim, ‘oh man Oz, man!’) and Tim’s wild behaviour that Tim’s playing Oz here. It may have been a bit of fun for an outtake.  
Watch ‘Aga-Bloody-Doo scene now on Check out out this outtake plus more now on
Question 10: Series 2 was fraught with problems on set; internal politics, power struggles, strikes, press intrusions and of course, the sad, untimely passing of Gary Holton. Against the odds, the series was as successful as the first ending with many unanswered questions leading viewers in hope of a follow up series. Was there any discussion or ideas amongst your fellow cast members and writers about a third series in the 80’s following the huge success of series 2 and if so, can you provide a little insight of what might have been? JN: Not as I recall. I believe by that point we were all ready to move on. Gary’s death was such a terrible shock and it cast a cloud over everything, knocked the stuffing out of us all. We were a close-knit bunch.  
Question 11: Following a 16-year gap between series two and three, the show was revived in 2002 with new adventures to Arizona (series 3), Cuba (series 4) and Thailand (The Special). You had some influence in the shows storylines whilst scouting for filming locations around the world with show creator Franc Roddam. Whilst your character exhibited traits of the ‘young Oz’, his persona changed echoing the wisdom of time and maturity. In hindsight, is there anything you would change about your performance as the ‘new Oz’? JN: Franc and I mapped out the story arc then Dick and Ian took it on from there. They felt it was important for the characters to have evolved, some positively, others less so. By 2001 times had changed as to what you could and couldn’t do and say on UK terrestrial television. On a personal level there was way more unbridled fun in playing the original unfiltered Oz but as an actor your job is to play the part as written to the best of your ability.
Question 12: It is widely acknowledged Ian La Frenais, Dick Clement and Stan Hey wrote some of the finest comedy drama television of all time capturing the simple interplay and inherent humour of everyday conversation to perfection. Did you stick rigidly to the scripts and what, if any influence did you have on your characters dialogue and identity throughout the show? JN: It was pretty much all there on the page. We were able to put our own spin on it, make it our own, as any actor will. As the writers got to know the actors (and the actors their characters) so it was reflected in the writing. The characters were being crafted specifically for us. Ian and I used to hang out together and some of my turns of phrase would find their way into the scripts. I had no problem with that. It was all just a part of the creative machine working. Most tv is made up of talking heads. One of the great things about the way Roger shot that first series was he worked a lot in wide establishing shots, allowing us to roam around utilising our entire bodies, our physicality, to help tell our stories. Roger was the alchemist, the unsung hero, our fifth Beatle. If it wasn’t for his vision, forget it.  
Question 13: It’s fair to say your character was blessed with some of the finest, most humorous script writing and comedy one-liners ever penned, most of which have become cemented in ‘AWP folklore’! What is your favourite scene and exchange of dialogue and why? JN: There was a scene set at the bar early on in which Oz shows Dennis a dodgy divers’ watch he’s recently bought. Dennis says it looks a bit shoddy, and Oz answers, ‘It works underwater, Dennis!’ That was the scene we did for my screen test. ’Sex is in its infancy in Gateshead’ makes me laugh. ‘Everybody gets what nobody wants?’ ‘That’s democracy, Dennis.’ is another stand-out line.    
Watch Jimmy’s favourite scenes now on Next Questions